Those rogues and vagabonds of Ballantrae were at it again!  The stories of the village’s colourful smuggling past were brought to life again through a variety of activities and events during this year’s “Ballantrae Smugglers Festival”.

The Festival programme this year included two productions arranged by one of it’s festival partners the Ayrshire Rural Touring Network.  One was a family friendly murder mystery written especially for them by Kenny Boyle of “Can You Catch the Killer” and based on a local story, the other was “McDougall’s Treasure Hunt” with amazing characters and sing-along songs for the young audience.  A “Smugglers’ Supper” in the local hotel was accompanied by live music from two superb local musicians – the Wah Wahs. On “Smugglers’ Sunday” the family “Contraband Challenge” included families from Glasgow, Halifax and Italy, cracking treasure hunt clues before paddling out into Ballantrae Bay to recover the contraband! To round off the festival, the children of Ballantrae Primary School produced a video entitled “Ballantrae Smugglers – What’s the Story” using pictures from previous festivals to tell the story.  This is available to view on the Ballantrae Smugglers Festival Facebook page.

Andy McAlpine, Chairman of the Ballantrae Trust which organises the festival said:

“The Festival keeps Ballantrae’s 18th and 19th century smuggling history alive. It has been in existence for 5 years now and every year we do something different to re-tell our stories.  Our thanks go to our partners, our sponsors, our volunteers, the local Primary School children who always play an important part in the festival, and our audiences for the various events, for making it another memorable weekend.”

The Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival was sponsored by SCOTMID and Carrick Futures / Ballantrae Community Council Community Benefit Fund.  Its partners were The Ayrshire Rural Touring Network, Adventure Carrick, The King’s Arms Hotel, and Craigiemains Home & Garden Centre.





Ballantrae Smugglers Festival 2018

Took place 10-12 August 2018



The Ballantrae Smugglers’ events for 2017 kicked off on Friday 9 June, with Music, Poetry and Smuggling Storiesan event for the whole family in a marquee at Ballantrae harbour. The production included the children from Ballantrae Primary School reading stories and poems from the book they published last year, and a performance of “Smuggler”, a song about smuggling in the local area. They were joined by “Celtic Voices” and Davie Hunter. The usual Smugglers’ Festival characters, The Minister and Doctor, and two new characters – the Innkeeper and The Narrator – enacted an incident which may or may not have been part of Ballantrae’s colourful smuggling history!

At the Festival of Food and Drink on Sunday 11 June the SmugglersContraband Storeattracted a lot of attention, particularly since the smugglers were giving away free samples of the fine wines recently landed as part of the consignment of contraband, and using a variation of a “treasure hunt”, visitors were encouraged to guess where the contraband would be hidden.

Smuggler Scarecrows appeared across the village in mid August.

On Saturday 26 August the King’s Arms Hotel in Ballantrae is hosted another successful adults only Smugglers’ Supper”.

On Sunday 27 AugustThe Ballantrae SmugglersChase involving skiff racing, took place in Ballantrae Bay with the tall ship La Malouine overseeing the action.

On Saturday 23 September a Carrick SmugglersRoad Trip (a coach trip with commentary) worked its way up the coast from Ballantrae to the Heads of Ayr.

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Email or watch local press for details of the 2018 programme.